Ethiopia’s birr black-market booms as diaspora influx

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The conflict in Northern Ethiopia that took place in November 2020 has an indefinite economic crisis. with instability in most parts of the country, and it’s said to be one of the factors contributing to the skyrocketing exchange rate of the dollar in the past year.

Presumably, the PM’s call for Diaspora is expected to inflow forex into the country. Most hotels, service givers, and different business sectors are opening a wide door for diaspora investment to encourage the dollar flow at a high rate.

Since PM Abiy Ahmed came into power three years ago, the shortage of hard currency has been overlooked to the extent it was triggered due to the war.

It is still not resolved, and the black market is anticipated to worsen the situation. the countries economy received a brutal hit with free trade cut-offs, import and export rates, and foreign direct investment traction.

In 2020, Ethiopia imported goods worth around $13.11B and exported $3.5B, making it the number 127 exporter globally.

Remittance from Diaspora has become the primary source of foreign currency in Ethiopia, securing $3.6B in remittance during the past fiscal year, which is equated with the amount of foreign exchange it garnered from international trade, according to the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency (EDA) disclosed

Following the influx of the Diaspora in Addis Ababa, the black market has become increasingly volatile. The government, for its part, has shut down traditional and well-known black market shops but has failed to control individuals and institutions operating illegally through banks and other channels.

Despite the Ethiopian government’s efforts to control black-market currency exchange, the attempt could not restrict the market’s propensity.

Experts say that money laundering is not uncommon in other commercial banks. In Addis Ababa, it is known that banks are more involved in the illegal transfer of dollars than the shops that run the black market. Bank employees, notably Commercial Bank and Oromia Banks, have stepped up their efforts to increase the dollar’s value. In particular, Oromia’s banks are known to operate around the airport, forcing the Diaspora to accept the dollar.

The government has not been able to repress the illegality of the black market, despite the recent looting of shops. In particular, the National Theater and its environs, the stadium and its surroundings, in front of the Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the Ethiopian Hotel, and various small shops in the Merkato area were the specific areas packed with black markets.

Despite government crackdowns, money launderers have been active in and around banks. The black market people behind them are not affected by anyone.

Addis Ababa, Adama, and Hawassa are among cities where exchange rates for hard currencies, including Euro, increased. 

Internationally, the war has had a significant impact on Ethiopia’s reputation as a place to invest; official statistics show the cost of essential consumer goods has indeed gone up in Ethiopia – they were around a quarter more expensive in July than a year earlier.